A very important part of the college financial aid planning process is searching for scholarships. Although college bound students should apply for financial aid by filing the FAFSA and working with their college financial aid office, students should also be proactive and search for additional scholarships from sources outside of colleges. This article is devoted to discussing the outside scholarship search process.
Look beyond what colleges and universities may have in terms of available scholarships. Students should take a proactive approach in obtaining outside scholarship monies and put some time into searching for additional scholarship sources.
There are a variety of different sources of outside scholarship monies available to students and these sources of scholarships may be closer to you than you think! Below is a summary of possible scholarship providers that you can pursue in your search for college financing.
Local Scholarships: At the majority of high schools, your guidance counselor will have information and applications for available local scholarships to graduating seniors. A high school guidance department office will have information and applications available to students during the school year, so it is very important that students visit their guidance office to seek out scholarship opportunities that are managed at the high school level. The student should make a point of listening to the guidance department announcements, reading the guidance newsletter, checking the guidance website, and stopping by the guidance office to look at the available scholarship resources. Some local scholarships need to be applied for directly and some are awarded by the guidance department or special committee in the town. Typically there are a number of local scholarships available, thus checking in with the guidance department is a MUST DO activity for the high school senior.
Check in with your guidance office in your senior year to inquire about the local scholarship application process, application deadlines, and related requirements.
Community, Business, and Civic Organizations: Many community organizations, clubs, and groups provide scholarships to college bound students. Check with any community organizations that you are involved with and inquire about available scholarship programs. Examples of community organizations include your local rotary club, chambers of commerce, better business bureau, elks club (or similar type of membership organizations), or other community clubs and membership organizations.
Religious Affiliations: If you have a particular religious affiliation, you may want to inquire if there are scholarships available for participating members. For example, students or family with a connection to a specific church or temple or that have another religious or spiritual connection should inquire about available support for college.
Employers: Many employers, especially those with a large number of employees, offer scholarship programs for dependent children of employees. It is important to contact your Human Resource Department and inquire whether they have scholarship programs and what the respective deadlines and application procedures are to apply.
Military: Every branch of the military services offer scholarship programs of some kind. These program offerings may change often and definitely have specific qualification requirements, procedures, guidelines and commitment details. The U.S. Military is a provider of a number of scholarship programs, thus if you think you may qualify and have an interest in what they have to offer, check with a military recruiter and the following website:
Scholarship Search Databases: The final option for acquiring monies for college that I will mention is a scholarship search through a reputable database. Before I tell you where to turn for this, I want to mention that you should NOT pay any company to do a scholarship search for you as students can seek out scholarship opportunities for free from a number of sources. Reportedly, there are SCAMS out there that will charge families to conduct a scholarship search and don’t give you any information that you can’t get yourself for FREE. PLEASE be wary of scams and do not pay a company (or individual) to do a search for you.
Free scholarship databases are dynamic search engines and give students an opportunity to create a profile, share demographic information, and input specific academic interests and talents into the search engine. In turn, students are provided with a list of possible scholarship opportunities that match the criteria that they entered into the database. After reviewing the results, students can then decide which opportunities they realistically should pursue. Each scholarship opportunity will require a separate application and has a set of requirements associated with the application. YES the outside scholarship search process is time consuming, however, one that should not be overlooked. At minimum, create a profile in one of the search databases and get a sense of the various options available and then decide whether to apply for selected opportunities.
Students should also check out college financial aid websites for outside scholarship information. Many colleges provide information pertaining to outside scholarships and some provide helpful information on scholarships that their students have previously received. Students should also think outside of the box and research companies that work in the student’s proposed area of interest. For example, photography majors should check out Nikon and Minolta, computer science majors should check out HP and Apple, and journalism majors should check with media companies and publications…. you get the picture! Be creative and think about all the options!
Use a trusted source ~ a reputable scholarship search tool such as http://www.FederalStudentAid.ed.gov/scholarship